Theme of Goodness in A Good Man is Hard to Find

The characters in the play, A Decent Man is Hard to Find, adhere to a variety of spiritual values, and the plot title, as well as the majority of the grandmother dialogue, address the concept of goodness. The term “healthy guy” is used many times by grandmother in the novel to emphasize its importance; but, in some situations, she seems to use it loosely. She is convinced that Misfit is a decent soul, despite the fact that he has just killed her whole family. This raises the question of whether being successful means a person’s internal character or actual actions. To grandmother, she believes that to be a good person is honesty, respectfulness, and politeness. She says to Red Sammy that he is a good man although he had trusted strangers blindly. Talking to Misfit, she constantly asserts that he would never kill an old lady. Grandmother’s sense of goodness is founded on the traditional ideals even in the face of a cruel killer; she believes that old age and decency shall keep Misfit from hurting her.
According to Misfit, nonetheless, the query of what is a good man is quite an insignificance. He insists that he had known that he was not a good man, that he has always been different from his siblings. He seems wrongdoing casually. Apart from when he is talking with grandmother, he seems not to compare himself against any standard of excellent character, and therefore he does not regard himself as ethically inferior or evil. Rather, he just does what he desires.
The author does not try to answer what genuine goodness is but instead adds complexity to it. By depicting various ironic models of a good person, that is grandmother, Red Sammy, Bailey; she causes the reader to feel the ambiguity of the morality as well as the intricacy of the question. The cutting through the core of the matter completely, she introduces Misfit, whose very presence threatens the legitimacy of any type of idea” goodness.” Her aim is not to answer such questions, but rather to make readers keener if how verbalized ideas and clichés do not touch the authentic puzzles of existence
“ [The grandmother:] “Here this fellow that calls himself The Misfit is aloose from the Federal Pen and headed toward Florida, and you read here what it says he did to these people. Just you read it. I wouldn’t take my children in any direction with a criminal like that aloose in it. I couldn’t answer to my conscience if I did.” (137)
What is seen here is a somehow absurd warning from grandmother. Firstly, it makes an introduction of Misfit right at the start of the novel and makes the readers feel that the confrontation with Misfit is expected. Additionally, it creates the narrative’s great irony; Grandmother shall be one bringing all people to Misfit, since she takes them to the wrong route, circuitously causing an accident. Although the encounter was unintentional, should she be blamed for this? Grandmother here is just positioning herself as a good person because good individuals follow their conscience.
“A good man is hard to find,” Red Sammy said. “Everything is getting terrible. I remember that day you could go off and leave your screen door unlatched. Not no more.” (142)
As Sammy grumbles that it is difficult to get a good man, he seems to imply that honorable individuals are difficult to get. A good to him means dependable just as grandmother thinks. Obviously, grandmother who is a good person and her family shall meet someone from the other kind as title foretells. So there is humor and forecast in what Sammy states. Additionally, there is also irony since the encounter with true evil shall bring the issue of what it implies to be good. It may be different from what the two presume.
“You must have stolen something,” [the grandmother] said.(150)
Misfit scoffed vaguely. “Nobody had nothing I wanted,” he stated. “It was a head-doctor at the penitentiary said what I had done was kill my daddy but I known that for a lie.” (150)
Grandmother is attempting to persuade him that he is a decent man in spite of his crime of stealing. Misfit, however, seems just to have the pleasure of doing evil just because he can.
“She would have been a good woman,” The Misfit said, “if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.” (153)
It is interesting here to see Misfit talking about goodness, yet he is evil himself. Misfit here is judging grandmother that she could have been good only when he is constantly to kill her. I seem he recognizes that grandmother’s last action, which he shot her, was really good. This means that it was their encounter and death which made her honorable, which add to the puzzle, what does it mean to good really in the novel?
“Shut up, Bobby Lee,” The Misfit said. “It’s no real pleasure in life.” (153)
Ironically, here, Misfit does not feel good about shooting grandmother yet he had previously asserted that meanness is the only pleasurable thing in life. Either killing grandmother greatly affected him, or he is changing to become a better man.
The author has also employed symbolism and foreshadowing in the novel to describe the family’s imminent death in spite of them being good people. Toomsboro is referenced as a city which the family passes through when grandmother remembers an old plantation that is simply not there. Toomsboro sounds like a tomb and is referenced right before Misfit shows up. It is foreshadowing imminent family death. The forest where the family is entrapped is dark and deep, another imagery. The forest is intimidating and hints the looming death of the family. Remember that everyone was killed in that forest except grandmother.
Six graves. It is interesting that grandmother notices the number of graves on their voyage, ironically they are six just like the six family members hence foreshadowing their death. The black hearse-like automobile is used by Misfit. Hearse is a car used to transport coffin. In spite of Misfit coming in a hearse-like car implying he is bringing death in the novel, grandmother still thinks he is a good man so he would not kill her.
Nostalgia is also employed in the novel. Grandmother, Sammy and Misfit’s nostalgia of the past shows that they assumed that good men were common in the past, unlike today. Sammy and grandmother recall the past when there was trust and honor among people. Misfit also recalls the thing his father stated and did along with the inequality of his punishment for offenses he did not commit. From the characters, the present is full of uncertainty and sadness, in a way, this conviction enables them to stop exploring their potential for goodness since they think that the current world is not conducive to it. The author manages to combine all figurative language and symbols to bring out the theme of goodness as well as to mystery to its real meaning.
Works Cited
O’connor, Flannery. A good man is hard to find: And other stories. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1977.

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